Okay, I promise this post will be significantly less mopey than the last one. You know why? This weekend was positively restorative. Really. The last week was a hard one, but I got through it. I had another roast chicken waiting when I got home on Friday evening (thanks, honey), and you just can’t go wrong with that. And then we went to the farmers’ market on Saturday, Jen greeted me with a big warm hug, and Matt Jennings gave us bites of grilled cheese. AND we brought all these goodies home. I’d say that’s all WIN.
As much as we’d like, we can’t live by farmers’ market alone, so after a stop at Whole Foods for a few other staples, we headed home with our bounty, which included my latest obsession, Maine shrimp.
I can’t get over how good these little guys (actually, gals) are, and they’re crazy cheap (I paid $3.00 for half a pound), which means I’m probably going to overload on them while they’re available. We had them in last weekend’s seafood stew, with some of Perry’s amazing littlenecks and cod from the cutest fish market ever, and enjoyed them again in this Saturday’s dinner, a super easy but totally sexy risotto.
I made a stock from the shrimp shells, simmering them with water, sea salt, and shallot and fennel trimmings, which I set aside to add to the risotto later. I used my usual risotto method, sautéing a couple of chopped shallots in a mix of butter and olive oil, and I added some thinly sliced fennel to the mix as well.
The rice went in next, and when it was translucent, I started adding the liquids: a splash of white vermouth, 1/3 cup or so of the juice from a can of San Marzano tomatoes, the juice of half a lemon, and that shrimp stock, a little at a time, finishing when the rice was al dente.
I turned off the heat and added the shrimp, gently stirring them through – all they needed was a minute or two to get perfectly done. I stirred a in a little creme fraiche for richness, and garnished our servings with feathery fennel fronds. This was some seriously good stuff – we finished it all.
Sunday morning. Our heat was back after a brief outage overnight, the cats let us sleep until 7, and we had pork to look forward to, in the form of this sausage, fennel and potato hash. With Wishing Stone absent from the farmers’ market, we’re tasting our way through the other eggs that are available, and these beauties from Harmony Hill were terrific.
We didn’t watch the game, but I couldn’t resist putting together a midday snack of nachos, with leftover Freedom Bean Farm beans, chile-braised pork from the freezer, Poblano Farm salsa, and of course, plenty of cheese. There may have been some ice cold beer involved as well. And then there was dinner.
We brought home a 4 lb. top round roast from Simmons Farm on Saturday, which I seasoned really simply – salt, pepper and dried marjoram – and let cook for hours with some carrots and potatoes. I removed the meat to let it rest, pulled out the veggies and strained the bits and juices that remained. I whisked in a little more water, scraping up all of the fond from the bottom and sides of the pan, and adding a dab of tomato paste, then tipped in some pearl onions and green beans from the freezer. I also mixed up a little horseradish and mustard creme fraiche to go alongside.
I haven’t cooked a pot roast in years, and unfortunately I let this one get a little more done than I would have liked, but it’s a testament to the meat that it was still moist and juicy, and that the flavor was really, really good. As I had hoped, we have ample leftovers for sandwiches and to incorporate into another dinner later in the week.